Intranet

A summation of info-artists and their importance to the Intranet.

An intranet is a private computer network that uses Internet protocols and network connectivity to securely share any part of an organization's information or operational systems with its employees. It can be understood as a private version of the Internet, or as a private extension of the Internet confined to an organization. Sometimes the term refers to just the organization's internal website, but it often includes private websites of various branches of the organization.

An organization's intranet does not necessarily have to provide access to the Internet. When such access is provided, it is usually through a network gateway with a firewall, shielding the intranet from unauthorized external access. The gateway often implements user authentication, encryption of messages, and virtual private network (VPN) connectivity for off-site employees to access company information, computing resources, and internal communications.

Contents

Intranets are important for internal communication and collaboration, to advance productivity. They are being increasingly used to deliver tools and applications, such as collaboration (to facilitate working in groups and teleconferencing) or sophisticated corporate directories, sales and customer relationship management tools, project management, and so forth. Intranets are also being used as corporate culture-change platforms. For example, large numbers of employees discussing key issues in an intranet forum application could lead to new ideas in management, productivity, quality, and other corporate issues.

Intranets versus extranets

The term intranet first appeared in print on April 19, 1995, in Digital News & Review in an article authored by technical editor Stephen Lawton.[1] As noted above, an intranet is generally restricted to employees of a particular organization. On the other hand, an extranet may also be accessed by authorized parties outside the organization, such as customers and suppliers.[2] (Extranets are further described below.)

Building an intranet

An intranet is built from the same concepts and technologies used for the Internet, such as clients and servers running on the Internet Protocol Suite (TCP/IP). Any of the well-known Internet protocols may be found in an intranet, such as HTTP (web services), SMTP (e-mail), and FTP (file transfer protocol). There is often an attempt to employ Internet technologies to provide modern interfaces to legacy information systems hosting corporate data.

Intranet user-experience, editorial, and technology teams work together to produce in-house sites. Most commonly, intranets are managed by the communications, Human Resource Management (HR), or Chief Information Officer (CIO) departments of large organizations, or some combination of these.

Because of the scope and variety of content and the number of system interfaces, intranets of many organizations are much more complex than their respective public websites. According to the Intranet design annual 2007 from Nielsen Norman Group, the number of pages on participants' intranets averaged 200,000 over the years 2001 to 2003 and has grown to an average of 6 million pages over 2005–2007.[3]

In the case of large intranets, website traffic is often similar to public website traffic and can be better understood by using web metrics software to track overall activity. User surveys also improve intranet website effectiveness.

Planning

Many organizations devote considerable resources into the planning and implementation of their intranet as it is of strategic importance to the organization's success. Some of the planning would include topics such as:

  • The purpose and goals the intranet
  • Persons or departments responsible for implementation and management
  • Implementation schedules and phase-out of existing systems
  • Defining and implementing security of the intranet
  • How they'll ensure to keep it within legal boundaries and other constraints
  • Level of interactivity (for example, wikis, on-line forms) desired
  • Is the input of new data and updating of existing data to be centrally controlled or devolved.

These are in addition to the hardware and software decisions (like Content Management Systems), participation issues (like good taste, harassment, confidentiality), and features to be supported.[4]

Implementation

The actual implementation would include steps such as:

  1. User involvement to identify users' information needs
  2. Setting up web server(s) with the appropriate hardware and software
  3. Setting up web server access using a TCP/IP network
  4. Installing required user applications on computers
  5. Creation of document framework for the content to be hosted[5]
  6. User involvement in testing and promoting use of intranet

Benefits of intranets

  1. Workforce productivity: Intranets can help users to locate and view information faster and use applications relevant to their roles and responsibilities. With the help of a web browser interface, users can access data held in any database the organization wants to make available, anytime and—subject to security provisions—from anywhere within the company workstations, increasing employees' ability to perform their jobs faster, more accurately, and with confidence that they have the right information. It also helps to improve the services provided to the users.
  2. Time: With intranets, organizations can make more information available to employees on a "pull" basis (that is, employees can link to relevant information at a time which suits them) rather than being deluged indiscriminately by emails.
  3. Communication: Intranets can serve as powerful tools for communication within an organization, vertically and horizontally. From a communications standpoint, intranets are useful to communicate strategic initiatives that have a global reach throughout the organization. The type of information that can easily be conveyed is the purpose of the initiative and what the initiative is aiming to achieve, who is driving the initiative, results achieved to date, and who to speak to for more information. By providing this information on the intranet, staff have the opportunity to keep up-to-date with the strategic focus of the organization.
  4. Web publishing allows "cumbersome" corporate knowledge to be maintained and easily accessed throughout the company using hypermedia and Web technologies. Examples include: Employee manuals, benefits documents, company policies, business standards, newsfeeds, and even training, can be accessed using common Internet standards (Acrobat files, Flash files, CGI applications). Because each business unit can update the online copy of a document, the most recent version is always available to employees using the intranet.
  5. Business operations and management: Intranets are also being used as a platform for developing and deploying applications to support business operations and decisions across the internetworked enterprise.
  6. Cost-effective: Users can view information and data via web-browser rather than maintaining physical documents such as procedure manuals, internal phone list and requisition forms.
  7. Promote common corporate culture: Every user is viewing the same information within the Intranet.
  8. Enhance Collaboration: With information easily accessible by all authorised users, teamwork is enabled.
  9. Cross-platform Capability: Standards-compliant web browsers are available for Windows, Mac, and UNIX.

In the case of large intranets, website traffic is often similar to public website traffic and can be better understood by using web metrics software to track overall activity. User surveys also improve intranet website effectiveness.

Related terminology

  • Extranet: An extranet is a private network that uses Internet protocols, network connectivity, and possibly the public telecommunication system to securely share part of an organization's information or operations with suppliers, vendors, partners, customers or other businesses. It can be considered part of a company's intranet that is extended to authorized users outside the company, normally over the Internet. It may be managed by more than one company's administrators, and it has special provisions for access, authentication, and authorization.
  • VPN: Any private network mapped onto a public one is a virtual private network (VPN). An intranet is a VPN under the control of a single company's administrators.
  • AAA protocol: In computer security, AAA protocol stands for “authentication, authorization, and accounting.” It is sometimes combined with auditing and then becomes AAAA.
    • Authentication: Authentication refers to the process of establishing the digital identity of one entity (such as a user or client computer) to another entity (such as a server or computer). Authentication is accomplished by presenting an identity, such as a password.
    • Authorization: Authorization refers to the granting of specific types of privileges (or "no privilege") to an entity or user, based on factors such as authentication and the privileges being requested. The granting of a privilege usually constitutes the ability to use a certain type of service, such as IP address filtering, address assignment, or encryption.
    • Accounting: Accounting refers to tracking the consumption of network resources by users. This information may be used for management, planning, billing, or other purposes. Typical information that is gathered in accounting is the identity of the user, the nature of the service delivered, when the service began, and when it ended.

See also

Notes

  1. Stephen Lawton, Intranets Fuel Growth of Internet Access Tools, Digital News & Review. Retrieved February 23, 2009.
  2. James Callaghan, Inside Intranets and Extranets: Knowledge Management and the Struggle for Power (Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire: Palgrave, 2002, ISBN 0333987438).
  3. Kara Pernice Coyne, Jakob Nielsen, and Mathew Schwartz, Intranet Design Annual 2007: The Year's 10 Best Intranets (Fremont, CA: Nielsen Norman Group, 2007, OCLC 152578916).
  4. James A. LaMee, Intranets and Special Libraries: Making the Most of In-house Communication, University of South Carolina. Retrieved February 23, 2009.
  5. William Yurcik, Intranet, Book Rags. Retrieved February 23, 2009.

References

  • Blackmore, Paul. 2001. Intranets: A Guide to Their Design, Implementation and Management. London: Aslib-IMI. ISBN 0851424414.
  • Callaghan, James. 2002. Inside Intranets and Extranets: Knowledge Management and the Struggle for Power. Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire: Palgrave. ISBN 0333987438.
  • Colby, John R., et al. 2003. Practical Intranet Development. Acocks Green, Birmingham: Glasshaus. ISBN 1590591690.
  • Kennedy, Mary Lee, and Jane Dysart. 2007. Intranets for Info Pros. Medford, NJ: Information Today. ISBN 978-1573873093.

External links

All links retrieved March 4, 2018.

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